Facebook Messenger (iOS, Android) could soon feature voice capabilities to let you dictate and send messages, initiate voice calls, and create reminders. Jane Manchun Wong, a tipster for TechCrunch released a few prototype images on Twitter.
Wong's pictures showed a new Messenger design, featuring an "M" button at the top of Messenger's screen. Tapping the M icon opens a Siri-like assistant.
Adding a voice feature makes Messenger more accessible to people with impaired mobility or vision. The new feature could also make responding to messages while driving safer.
Wong also saw new AR GIF stickers and a Stickers and Emoji menu in Messenger. An "Effects" tab seemed to have Snapchat-style filters. Users might soon see the return of the dreaded "poke," too. Wong pointed out a new "Actions" tab with more choices for users to initiate a message besides waving.
Messenger is also testing dark mode and sending add-friend prompts through the app.
Facebook announced its app cleanup last month, noting that its users preferred a simple UI. It seems like a lot is being added and removed. Messenger might tuck all the new updates into a little "+" button for tidiness, but going through layers of an app to find a feature defeats usability. Will the updates and redesign cancel each other out?
The prospective Messenger update was announced just before the announcement of Facebook's hardware, the Portal and Portal+.
The Portal devices want to take the Messenger experience even further and make them more conversational. The Portal and Portal+ are essentially tablets with AI cameras that follow you through the room while on a call. The camera can zoom, reframe, pan, and adjust, letting you stay hands-free and mobile.
The Portal devices look like they include the features in the potential Messenger and some extra bells and whistles. The hardware will include the Snapchat effects, music sharing features, and five interactive story books in Story Time. The devices can also interact with Amazon Alexa.
The devices are available to order on Monday, if you're too excited for Messenger's updates to wait for the free update. The Portal costs $200, and the Portal+ is $349.
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- Facebook Messenger is testing voice capabilities to let you dictate and send messages, initiate voice calls, and create reminders with the "M" button, a Siri-type assistant.
- Users could get Messenger's new features and some extras by purchasing Facebook's new hardware, the Portal, or wait for the potential Messenger update for free.
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- Take a look at Facebook Portal, a dedicated Messenger video call hub for your home (CNET)
- Facebook Portal and Portal+ video calling devices: Should you buy them? (ZDNet)
- Yahoo Messenger will die on July 17: Here are the best alternatives (TechRepublic)